The obvious way to relax is to head for a massage. There are many types of massage in Brisbane and not all places are equal. Many rely on barely trained massage therapists and are okay if you just want a relaxation massage.
Noriko, from Aria Massage Therapy in the city, explained to me the benefits of seeking out professional massage. People go to Aria Massage in their lunch breaks for a quick neck and shoulder massage just to relax, but a full therapeutic massage will include a diagnosis of any core underlying problems. By treating these, along with the general benefits of massage, you will leave feeling better and more relaxed.
For me the sea is very relaxing. Despite being a coastal city, access to the sea in Brisbane can be a little limited. But there are a number of nice coastal areas and even a few beaches.
Probably my favourite place just to relax is Nudgee Beach. Not really a beach at all, but a nice little coastal village. People head to Nudgee Reserve to relax, walk on the mudflats at low tide or wade in the water at high tide. You can also do the 2 km walk around the Nudgee Wetlands.
Another like park is Wellington Point. This great little park is a wonderful place to relax. There is a little beach that you can swim at during high tide. The highlight is going on a relaxing walk on the sandbar to King Island at low tide (not so relaxing if you don't check the tide times and the tide comes in before you get back to Wellington Point).
The coastal stretch between Shorncliffe and Brighton has long been a popular destination. The mudflats extend far out to sea and are a popular place to walk at low tide. Sandgate has a great collection of cafes, restaurants and bars. There are also a few parks and wetland areas in Sandgate that are worth strolling around,
North of Woody Point is a stretch that includes Margate, Redcliffe and Scarborough. This stretch has a continuous footpath or boardwalk for people who like to cycle and walk. You can also enjoy the sands and splash or swim in the water on warm days. Redcliffe is the main location for cafes, but you can also find fish & chip shops and cafes intermittently the waterfront stretch.
A couple and their dog having a relaxing stroll on Margate Beach
Parks are the obviously place to relax, though some parks are more relaxing that others. The Brisbane Botanic Gardens (the one at Mt Coot-tha, not the City Botanic Gardens in Brisbane) has winding paths around ponds and streams. The Japanese Garden is a little cultured oasis among within the Gardens. However to really relax I prefer to head to theAustralian native gardens at the back. Fewer people come here so it is a great spot to relax by the lake.
The Japanese Gardens in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens is a nice place to relax
Another park that is perfect for a relaxing walk is Forest Lake Park in the suburb of Forest Lake. It is about 3 kms around the lake. In the morning it can attract quite a few boot campers doing the lake run, but at other times you can just stroll around without interruption.
People these days often forget temples and churches as a place to go to relax. Some are only open for services while others remain open for people to go and pray, meditate or simply relax.
In the city St Stephen's Cathedral is known by many office workers as the place to find a place to sit and enjoy their lunch. The grounds are a small green oasis in the CBD. Church leaders have done their best to accommodate people who just want to sit their and relax, recently adding extra benches. The cathedral itself is often open for people to pray, except when there are services. The adjoining chapel is also open to the public most of the time.
St Stephens Cathedral and grounds is an oasis to relax in within the CBD
One of the most relaxing places that I know in Brisbane is the Chung Tian Temple in Priestdale. The sprawling temple complex is set on beautiful grounds that back onto bushland. You can wander the grounds or mediate in one of the meditation or prayer rooms. If you prefer you can enjoy a vegetarian meal and coffee at the Water Drop Teahouse.
The Chung Tian Buddhist Temple is a nice place to relax
One of the best ways to relax is just sit down with a cup of coffee or tea, and some cake. Some cafes are hives of activity, and while a great place to socialise, are not that relaxing.
My favourite cafes to relax in are usually outdoors. One of my favourites is the Queensland Art Gallery Cafe. Set in the galleries sculptor garden, it is a little patch of green with a water feature running through it. It is surrounded by walls that cut you off from the hustle of the world.
The garden and water feature at the Queensland Art Gallery Cafe
Other cafes to look for are those that have big comfortable sofas or chairs. Yes I know milk crates and benches are trendy at the moment, but they are not really relaxing. One that comes to mind is the Java Lounge in Paddington. That is, if you can score one of the sofas.
The State Library of Queensland Cafe has sofas, soft chairs and padded benches inside
Oh one other cafe with lots of sofas is the State Library of Queensland's cafe. I don't find the surrounds that relaxing, but the chairs, sofas and padded benches are very comfortable. They also have nicer food that the Queensland Art Gallery Cafe.